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Former Dartmouth Professors Accused of Assault, Lawsuit Filed by Victims

— January 28, 2019

Amid professor sexual assault allegations, Dartmouth officials say they carried out “a rigorous and objective review” of three former professors. All three professors have parted ways with the university.

Dartmouth College said it was unaware of sexual misconduct allegations against three professors until it told about it by its female students, according to administrators.  The prestigious college is facing a federal lawsuit accusing it of allowing the behavior to occur.  It allegedly has evidence of some inappropriate behavior, but not assault.  According to court documents, Dartmouth officials were not aware of the misconduct until “several students asked for a meeting with the Chair of the Department and the Department’s Director of Graduate Studies.”

The lawsuit originally filed in November by seven current and former female students who accused Dartmouth of failing to take action to address years of sexual harassment and other inappropriate behavior by tenured professors in the Department of Psychological and Brain Science.  The lawsuit states professors William Kelley, Paul Whalen, and Todd Heatherton harassed women and groped them.  It also accuses Kelley and Whalen raping a student after a night of partying and drinking, attempting to seduce other females under their supervision.

The filing includes claims that the professors attempted to turn the department into a “21st Century Animal House, treating women as sex objects.”  They allegedly punish those who denied their advances.  All three professors have since left Dartmouth.

Former Dartmouth Professors Accused of Assault, Lawsuit Filed by Victims
Photo by Vadim Fomenok on Unsplash

Heatherton apologized for acting inappropriately at conferences but said, through his attorney, that he never socialized or had sexual relations with any students.  So far, he was been the only one to comment.  Dartmouth said it sought to end the professors’ tenure and employment when it first found out about the allegations against the professors, but, before it could, Heatherton retired and Whalen and Kelley both resigned.

The college applauded the courage of the female students who have chosen to come forward and admits there was an “unacceptable environment involving excess alcohol consumption, an inappropriate level of fraternization, and inappropriate personal comments and contact” between the three professors and some of their students.  It also said it has tangible evidence the professors inappropriately touched students and texted them but does not have any evidence to support the more serious assault allegations.  It further denied the behavior affected all women in the department and has also denied the perception of the department being a “party culture.”

After being made aware of allegations, in October 2017, the college initiated “a rigorous and objective review” of the three former professors.  It has never released the findings but was preparing to terminate all three when they parted ways on their own accord.

Spokesperson Justin Anderson stated, “Dartmouth did not condone any misconduct by the former faculty members, nor did it fail to address complaints brought to its attention.  Dartmouth will defend itself as an institution.  Dartmouth will not defend the actions of these three former faculty members in court or elsewhere.”

Earlier this month, Dartmouth announced it would be welcoming an outside review of all academic departments and has made a revision of its sexual misconduct policy.  It also will start mandatory training on the federal law barring gender discrimination and make a more focused effort to provide mental health services to its students.


Dartmouth: Officials Didn’t Know of Sexual Misconduct Claims

Dartmouth says officials were not aware of sexual misconduct until allegations surfaced in 2017

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